Tag Archives: Insects

Honey – a sweet wound dressing

Written records show that honey was used to treat infected wounds more than 2,000 years before it was known that bacteria caused infections.

Honey produced by the honey bee (Apis mellifera) is one of the oldest traditional medicines for a number of human ailments and it can even be effective on antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

The antimicrobial activity in most honeys (that has not been heat treated) is due to an enzyme Glucose Oxidase that catalyses glucose to form hydrogen peroxide. Certain types of nectar like manuka also have antibacterial properties that can act in addition to the hydrogen peroxide or on its own.

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Honey bee (Apis mellifera)

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Black and White Stripes are Good for…

… deterring biting flies.

The purpose of the black and white stripes on zebra has been the subject of some speculation. One suggestion is that stripes make it difficult for predators to single out an individual zebra from the herd, but experimental evidence to support that and other ideas has been lacking.

Turns out bloodsucking horseflies and tsetse flies who do not only deliver nasty bites but also carry dangerous germs find zebra stripes less attractive than uniform colouration.

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Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra).

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Take some Poison – For your protection of course!

Locusts / grasshoppers of the order Phymateus eat poisonous plants like the milkweed and store the poisons in their bodies to deter their predators.

There are a number of species and subspecies with a variety of colours. This image is of the  common milkweed locust (Phymateus morbillosus).

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Common Milkweed Locust (Phymateus morbillosus) at Witzenberg, Wolseley, South Africa.

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Stillsuit anyone?

The Addo Elephant Park’s  flightless dung beetle (Circellium bacchus) has no wings, but uses the sealed wing case as a CO2 store to exhale less frequently and thus minimize moisture loss during breathing.

This allows the beetle to survive the arid conditions prevalent in that part of the Eastern Cape.

And yes, in Addo dung beetles have right of way.

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Give way to dung beetles, Addo Elephant Park, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Stillsuit is a moisture saving suit from the book Dune (by Frank Herbert).

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Citizens, Residents and Overstayers

Due to New Zealand’s isolation from other large land masses, its natural ecosystems develop in rather unique ways.

It is well known that the only native land mammals are a few bat species, but less well known is that New Zealand has no native
eusocial bees or wasps, and very few native ants or termites.

Humans have accidentally introduced 4 social wasp species and about 30 ant species.

Honeybees and four species of bumblebees were deliberately introduced to pollinate crops.

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Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris) on Lavender, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

 

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